This House would privatize the USA's social security schemes

In the US, Social Security is a social insurance program officially called "Old-Age, Survivors, and Disability Insurance" (OASDI), in reference to its three components. The Social Security Act was enacted August 14, 1935, during the Great Depression. It is primarily funded through a dedicated payroll tax. During 2008, total benefits of $625 billion were paid out versus income (taxes and interest) of $805 billion, a $180 billion annual surplus. An estimated 162 million people paid into the program and 51 million received benefits, roughly 3.2 workers per beneficiary. By dollars paid, the U.S. Social Security program is the largest government program in the world and the single greatest expenditure in the federal budget, with 20.8% for social security, compared to 20.5% for discretionary defence and 20.1% for Medicare/ Medicaid. Due to projected difficulties with social security programs as the United States ages and the ratio of contributors to recipients falls so costing the state more and more, many, including former president Bush, have argued that social security should be privatized (at least partly). This is a situation in which individuals are given subsidized personal accounts ("individual accounts" or "private accounts") through partial privatization of the system. Especially during the 2011-2012 Republican Primary, prominent politicians have claimed that Social Security in its current form represents a ponzi scheme and a 'massive lie'. President Barrack Obama "strongly opposes" privatization.

 

 

Title 
Privatising social security would improve economic growth
Point 

Privatizing social security would enable investment of savings. Commentator Alex Schibuola argues that: "If Social Security were privatized, people would deposit their income with a bank. People actually save resources that businesses can invest. We, as true savers, get more resources in the future."[1]  As a result private accounts would also increase investments, jobs and wages. Michael Tanner of the think tank the Cato Institute argues: "Social Security drains capital from the poorest areas of the country, leaving less money available for new investment and job creation. Privatization would increase national savings and provide a new pool of capital for investment that would be particularly beneficial to the poor."[2]

Currently Social Security represents a net loss for taxpayers and beneficiaries. Social Security, although key to the restructuring the of USA’s social contract following the great depression, represents a bad deal for the post-war American economy. Moreover, this deal has gotten worse over time. 'Baby boomers' are projected to lose roughly 5 cents of every dollar they earn to the OASI program in taxes net of benefits. Young adults who came of age in the early 1990s and today's children are on course to lose over 7 cents of every dollar they earn in net taxes. If OASI taxes were to be raised immediately by the amount needed to pay for OASI benefits on an on-going basis, baby boomers would forfeit 6 cents of every dollar they earn in net OASI taxes. For those born later it would be 10 cents.[3]

Change could be implemented gradually. Andrew Roth argues: “While Americans in retirement or approaching retirement would probably stay in the current system [if Social Security were to be privatized], younger workers should have the option to invest a portion of their money in financial assets other than U.S. Treasuries. These accounts would be the ultimate "lock box" - they would prevent politicians in Washington from raiding the Trust Fund. The truth is that taxpayers bail out politicians every year thanks to Social Security. Congress and the White House spend more money than they have, so they steal money from Social Security to help pay for it. That needs to stop and there is no responsible way of doing that except with personal accounts.”[4] This would make social security much more sustainable as there would no longer be the risk of the money being spent elsewhere.

Put simply, privatizing Social Security would actually boost economic growth and lead to better-protected investments by beneficiaries, benefiting not only themselves but the nation at large. Thus Social Security should be privatized.

[1] Schibuola, Alex. "Time to Privatize? The Economics of Social Security." Open Markets. 16 November 2010. http://www.openmarket.org/2010/11/16/time-to-privatize-the-economics-of-...

[2] Tanner, Michael. "Privatizing Social Security: A Big Boost for the Poor." CATO. 26 July 1996. http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/ssps/ssp4.html

[3] Kotlikoff, Lawrence. "Privatizing social security the right way". Testimony to the Committee on Ways and Means. 3 June 3 1998. http://people.bu.edu/kotlikof/Ways&Means.pdf

[4] Roth, Andrew. "Privatize Social Security? Hell Yeah!". Club for Growth.21  September 21 2010. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/?

Counterpoint 

Privatizing Social Security would harm economic growth, not help it. Privatization during the current economic crisis would have been disaster, and so doing it now is a risk for any upcoming or future crisis. Privatization in the midst of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression would have caused households to have lost even more of their assets, had their investments been invested in the U.S. stock market or in funds exposed to complicated and high risk financial instruments.

Privatizing social security might therefore increase economic growth in the boom times but this would be at the expense of sharper downturns. Proposition’s argument implicitly assumes that the money at the moment does not improve economic growth. On the contrary the government is regularly investing the money in much the same way as private business would – and often on much more long term projects such as infrastructure that fit better with a long term saving than the way that banks invest.

Title 
Privatising social security will increase the amount of money that reitrees can draw on
Point 

Private accounts would provide retirees with a higher rate of return on investments.[1] Privatization would give investment decisions to account holders. This does not mean that Social Security money for the under 55’s would go to Wall Street.. This could be left to the individual's discretion. Potentially this could include government funds. But with government’s record of mismanagement, and a $14 trillion deficit, it seems unlikely that many people would join that choice.[2]

As Andrew Roth argues, "Democrats will say supporters of personal accounts will allow people's fragile retirement plans to be subjected to the whims of the stock market, but that's just more demagoguery. First, personal accounts would be voluntary. If you like the current system (the one that [can be raided by] politicians), you can stay put and be subjected to decreasingly low returns as Social Security goes bankrupt. But if you want your money protected from politicians and have the opportunity to invest in the same financial assets that politicians invest in their own retirement plans (most are well-diversified long term funds), then you should have that option."[3

Social Security privatization would actually help the economically marginalised in two ways. Firstly, by ending the harm social security currently does; Those at the poverty level need every cent just to survive. Even those in the lower-middle class don’t money to put into a wealth-generating retirement account. They have to rely on social security income to pay the bills when they reach retirement. Unfortunately, current social security pay-outs are at or below the poverty level. The money earned in benefits based on a retiree’s contributions during their working life is less than  the return on a passbook savings account.[4]

Secondly, these same groups would be amongst the biggest 'winners' from privatization. By providing a much higher rate of return, privatization would raise the incomes of those elderly retirees who are most in need.

The current system contains many inequities that leave the poor at a disadvantage. For instance, the low-income elderly are most likely to be dependent on Social Security benefits for most or all of their retirement income. But despite a progressive benefit structure, Social Security benefits are inadequate for the elderly poor's retirement needs.[5]

Privatizing Social Security would improve individual liberty. Privatization would give all Americans the opportunity to participate in the economy through investments. Everyone would become capitalists and stock owners reducing the division of labour and capital and restoring the ownership that was the initial foundation of the American dream.[6]

Moreover, privatized accounts would be transferable within families, which current Social Security accounts are not. These privatized accounts would be personal assets, much like a house or a 401k account. On death, privatised social security accounts could pass to an individual’s heirs. With the current system, this cannot be done. Workers who have spent their lives paying withholding taxes are, in effect, denied a proprietary claim over money that, by rights, belongs to them.[7]

This would make privatization a progressive move. Because the wealthy generally live longer than the poor, they receive a higher total of Social Security payments over the course of their lifetimes. This would be evened out if remaining benefits could be passed on.[8] Privatizing Social Security increases personal choice and gives people control over what they paid and thus are entitled to. Overall, therefore, privatizing Social Security would increase the amount of money that marginalised retirees receive and would give all retirees more freedom to invest and distribute social security payments.

[1] Tanner, Michael. "Privatizing Social Security: A Big Boost for the Poor." CATO. 26 July 1996. http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/ssps/ssp4.html

[2] Roth, Andrew. "Privatize Social Security? Hell Yeah!". Club for Growth.21  September 21 2010. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/?postID=14110

[3] Roth, Andrew. "Privatize Social Security? Hell Yeah!". Club for Growth.21  September 21 2010. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/?postID=14110

[4] Tanner, Michael. "Privatizing Social Security: A Big Boost for the Poor." CATO. 26 July 1996. http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/ssps/ssp4.html

[5] Tanner, Michael. "Privatizing Social Security: A Big Boost for the Poor." CATO. 26 July 1996. http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/ssps/ssp4.html

[6] Tanner, Michael. "Privatizing Social Security: A Big Boost for the Poor." CATO. 26 July 1996. http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/ssps/ssp4.html

[7] Roth, Andrew. "Privatize Social Security? Hell Yeah!". Club for Growth.21  September 21 2010. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/?postID=14110

[8] Tanner, Michael. "Privatizing Social Security: A Big Boost for the Poor." CATO. 26 July 1996. http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/ssps/ssp4.html

Counterpoint 

Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman. Argued in 2004 that: “Social Security is a government program that works, a demonstration that a modest amount of taxing and spending can make people's lives better and more secure. And that's why the right wants to destroy it."[1] The problem with Social Security is not that it does not work, nor that it fails the poor. Rather, as Krugman notes, social security uses limited taxation to implement a clear and successful vision of social justice. As a consequence, the social security system has been repeatedly attacked by right wing and libertarian politicians. Such attacks are not motivated by the merits or failure of the social security system itself, but by political ambition and a desire to forcefully implement alternative normative schema within society.

Privatizing Social Security would require costly new government bureaucracies. From the standpoint of the system as a whole, privatization would add enormous administrative burdens – and costs. The government would need to establish and track many small accounts, perhaps as many accounts as there are taxpaying workers—157 million in 2010.[2]  Often these accounts would be too small so that profit making firms would be unwilling to take them on. There would need to be thousands of workers to manage these accounts. In contrast, today’s Social Security has minimal administrative costs amounting to less than 1 per cent of annual revenues.[3]

It is also unlikely that individuals will be able to invest successfully on their own, although they may believe they can, leading to a great number of retirees actually being worse off after privatization.

[1] Paul Krugman. "Inventing a crisis." New York Times. 7 December 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=2&scp=539&sq...

[2] Wihbey, John, ‘2011 Annual Report by the Social Security Board of Trustees’, Journalist’s Resource, 9 June 2011, http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/politics/social-security-report-2011/

[3] Anrig, Greg and Wasow, Bernard. "Twelve reasons why privatizing social security is a bad idea". The Century Foundation. 14 February 2005. http://tcf.org/media-center/pdfs/pr46/12badideas.pdf

Title 
The social security system is unsustainable in the status quo
Point 

Social Security is in Crisis. Social Security in the United States, as in most western liberal democracies, is a pay-as-you-go system and has always been so. As such, it is an intergenerational wealth transfer. The solvency of the system therefore relies on favourable demographics; particularly birth rate and longevity. In the United States the birth rate when Social Security was created was 2.3 children per woman but had risen to 3.0 by 1950. Today it is 2.06. The average life expectancy in 1935 was 63 and today it is 75. While this may be representative of an improvement in quality-of-life for many Americans, these demographic changes also indicate the increasing burden that social security systems are being put under.[1]

As a result of changing demographic factors, the number of workers paying Social Security payroll taxes has gone from 16 for every retiree in 1950 to just 3.3 in 1997. This ration will continue to decline to just 2 to 1 by 2025. This has meant the tax has been increased thirty times in sixty-two years to compensate. Originally it was just 2 percent on a maximum taxable income of $300, now it is 12.4 percent of a maximum income of $65,400. This will have to be raised to 18 percent to pay for all promised current benefits, and if Medicare is included the tax will have to go to nearly 28 percent.[2]

Social Security is an unsuitable approach to protecting the welfare of a retiring workforce. The social security system as it stands is unsustainable, and will place an excessive tax burden on the current working population of the USA, who will be expected to pay for the impending retirement of almost 70 million members of the “baby boomer” generation. This crisis is likely to begin in 2016 when- according to experts- more money will be paid out by the federal government in social security benefits than it will receive in payroll taxes.[3]

In many ways Social Security has now just become a giant ponzi scheme. As the Cato Institute has argued: “Just like Ponzi's plan, Social Security does not make any real investments -- it just takes money from later 'investors' or taxpayers, to pay benefits to the scheme’s earlier, now retired, entrants. Like Ponzi, Social Security will not be able to recruit new "investors" fast enough to continue paying promised benefits to previous investors. Because each year there are fewer young workers relative to the number of retirees, Social Security will eventually collapse, just like Ponzi's scheme.”[4]

Faced with this impending crisis, privatizing is at worst the best of the 'bad' options. It provides an opportunity to make the system sustainable and to make it fair to all generations by having everyone pay for their own retirement rather than someone else’s.[5]

[1] Crane, Edward. "The Case for Privatizing America's Social Security System." CATO Institute. 10 December 1997. http://www.cato.org/testimony/art-22.html

[2] Crane, Edward. "The Case for Privatizing America's Social Security System." CATO Institute. 10 December 1997. http://www.cato.org/testimony/art-22.html

[3] San Diego Union Tribune. "Privatizing Social Security Still a Good Idea." San Diego Union Tribune. http://www.creators.com/opinion/daily-editorials/privatizing-social-security-still-a-good-idea.html

[4] Cato Institute. “Why is Social Security often called a Ponzi scheme?”. Cato Institute. 11 May 1999. http://www.socialsecurity.org/daily/05-11-99.html;

[5] Kotlikoff, Lawrence. "Privatizing social security the right way". Testimony to the Committee on Ways and Means. 3 June 3 1998. http://people.bu.edu/kotlikof/Ways&Means.pdf

Counterpoint 

Social Security is not in crisis and there is no need for privatization. Social Security is completely solvent today, and will be into the future because it has a dedicated income stream that covers its costs and consistently generates a surplus, which today is $2.5 trillion.

Proposition’s dire prediction of the collapse of social security’s financial situation is misleading. The Social Security surplus will grow to approximately $4.3 trillion in 2023, and that reserves will be sufficient to pay full benefits through to 2037. Even after this it would still be able to pay 78%. Moreover, there are plenty of ways to reform Social Security to make it more fiscally sound without privatizing it, including simply raising taxes to fund it better.[1]

Furthermore the problem that affects social security of falling numbers of contributors to each retiree will also affect private pensions, at least in the short to medium term, just in a different way. If all younger pensioners went over to just paying for their own future retirement who is to pay for current retirees or those who are shortly to retire. These people will still need to have their pensions paid for. They will not have time to save up a personal pension and so will be relying on current workers – but such workers will not want to pay more when they are explicitly just paying for someone else as they are already paying for themselves separately.

[1] Roosevelt, James."Social Security at 75: Crisis Is More Myth Than Fact." Huffington Post. 11 August 11 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-roosevelt/social-security-at-75-cri_...

Title 
Privatising social security will harm retirees
Point 

As Greg Anrig and Bernard Wasow of the non-partisan think tank the Century Foundation argue: "Privatization advocates like to stress the appeal of 'individual choice' and 'personal control,' while assuming in their forecasts that everyone’s accounts will match the overall performance of the stock market. But… research by Princeton University economist Burton G. Malkiel found that even professional money managers over time significantly underperformed indexes of the entire market.”[1] Most people don’t have the knowledge to manage their own investments. A Securities and Exchange Commission report showed the extent of financial illiteracy for example half of adults don’t know what a stock market is, half don’t understand the purpose of diversifying investments and 45% believe it provides “a guarantee that [their] portfolio won’t suffer if the stock market falls”[2] Including all the management costs it is safe to say that growth from individual accounts will be lower than the market average.

The private sector is therefore in no better a position to make investment decisions than the state. Privatised accounts would bring their own problems. They are vulnerable to market downturns. Despite crashes the long term return from shares has always been positive. But this does not help those that hit retirement age during a period when the stock market is down. With private pensions people would be relying on luck that they retire at the right time or happened to pick winning stocks.[3]

The economist Paul Krugman has pointed out, privatizers make incredible assumptions about the likely performance of the market in order to be able to justify their claim that private accounts would outdo the current system. The price-earnings ratio would need to be around 70 to 1 by 2050. This is unrealistic and would be an immense bubble as a P/E ratio of 20 to 1 is considered more normal today.[4]

If returns are low then there the added worry that privatized social security may not beat inflation. This would mean that retiree’s pensions become worth less and less. At the moment Social Security payouts are indexed to wages, which historically have exceeded inflation so providing protection.  Privatizing social security would have a big impact on those who want to remain in the system through falling tax revenues.  Implementing private accounts will take 4 per-cent of the 12.4 per-cent taken from each worker’s annual pay out of the collective fund. Thus, almost a 3rd of the revenue generated by social security taxes will be removed. Drastic benefit cuts or increased taxes will have to occur even sooner, which is a recipe for disaster.[5]

It is for reasons such as these that privatization of similar social security systems has disappointed elsewhere, as Anrig and Wasow argue: "Advocates of privatization often cite other countries, such as Chile and the United Kingdom, where the governments pushed workers into personal investment accounts to reduce the long-term obligations of their Social Security systems, as models for the United States to emulate. But the sobering experiences in those countries actually provide strong arguments against privatization. A report last year from the World Bank, once an enthusiastic privatization proponent, expressed disappointment that in Chile, and in most other Latin American countries that followed in its footsteps, “more than half of all workers [are excluded] from even a semblance of a safety net during their old age.””[6] Therefore privatizing Social Security would actually harm retirees and undermine the entire system, and so Social Security should not be privatized.

[1] Anrig, Greg and Wasow, Bernard. "Twelve reasons why privatizing social security is a bad idea". The Century Foundation. 14 February 2005. http://tcf.org/media-center/pdfs/pr46/12badideas.pdf

[2] Office of Investor Education and Assistance Securities and Exchange Commission, ‘The Facts on Saving and Investing’, April 1999, http://www.sec.gov/pdf/report99.pdf pp.16-19

[3] Spitzer, Elliot. "Can we finally kill this terrible idea?" Slate. 4 February 2009. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_best_policy/2009/02/privatize_social_security.html

[4] Spitzer, Elliot. "Can we finally kill this terrible idea?" Slate. 4 February 2009. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_best_policy/2009/02/privatize_social_security.html

[5] Anrig, Greg and Wasow, Bernard. "Twelve reasons why privatizing social security is a bad idea". The Century Foundation. 14 February 2005. http://tcf.org/media-center/pdfs/pr46/12badideas.pdf

[6] Anrig, Greg and Wasow, Bernard. "Twelve reasons why privatizing social security is a bad idea". The Century Foundation. 14 February 2005. http://tcf.org/media-center/pdfs/pr46/12badideas.pdf

Counterpoint 

Most of these arguments can be undercut by noting that the privatization of Social Security accounts would be voluntary, and thus anyone who believed the argument that the government invests better would be free to leave their account as it is, unchanged.

Those who believe they can do a better job of investing and managing their money on their own should be given the freedom to do so. In this respect it is important to remember the origin of the money in these accounts: it has been paid in by the individuals themselves. As James Roosevelt (CEO of the health insurance firm Tufts Health Plan) notes: " Those ‘baby boomers’ who are going to bust Social Security when they retire? They have been paying into the system for more than 40 years, generating the large surplus the program has accumulated. Much of the money that baby boomers are and will be drawing on from Social Security, is, and will be, their own.”[1] As it is their money which they have paid in in the first place, members of the baby boomer generation should have a right to choose how they invest –it. If that means choosing to go private and pursue riskier investments, so be it. The money paid out by the social security system belongs to those who paid it in, and the government should not deprive taxpayers from exercising free choice over the uses to which their money is put. Moreover, none of the other arguments adduced by side opposition do anything to address the ways in which Social Security currently harms the poor, the redressing of which alone justifies privatizing Social Security.

[1] Roosevelt, James."Social Security at 75: Crisis Is More Myth Than Fact." Huffington Post. 11 August 11 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-roosevelt/social-security-at-75-cri_b_677058.html

Title 
Privatising the social security system would harm economic growth
Point 

Creating private accounts could have an impact on economic growth, which in turn would hit social security's future finances. Economic growth could be hit as privatizing Social Security will increase federal deficits and as a result debt significantly, while increasing the likelihood that national savings will decline which will happen as baby boomers retire anyway and draw down their savings.

An analysis by the Centre on Budget and Policy Priorities shows that the proposed privatization by Obama would add $1 trillion in new federal debt in its first decade of implementation, and a further $3.5 trillion in the following decade.[1] Because households change their saving and spending levels in response to economic conditions privatization is actually more likely to reduce than increase national savings. This is because households that consider the new accounts to constitute meaningful increases in their retirement wealth might well reduce their other saving. Diamond and Orszag argue, 'If anything, our impression is that diverting a portion of the current Social Security surplus into individual accounts could reduce national saving.' That, in turn, would further weaken economic growth and our capacity to pay for the retirement of the baby boomers."[2]

The deficit, and as a result national debt, would increase because trillions of dollars which had previously been paying for current retirees would be taken out of the system to be invested privately. Those who are already retired will however still need to draw a pension so the government would need to borrow the money to be able to pay for these pensions.[3]

Contrary to side proposition’s assertions, privatization also would not increase capital available for investment. Proponents of privatization claim that the flow of dollars into private accounts and then into the equity markets will stimulate the economy. However, as the social security system underwent the transition into private ownership, each dollar invested in a financial instrument via the proprietary freedoms afforded to account holders, would result in the government borrowing a dollar to cover pay outs to those currently drawing from the social security system.

Thus, the supposed benefit of a privatised social security system is entirely eliminated by increased government borrowing, as the net impact on the capital available for investment is zero.[4]

While four fifths of tax dollars for social security is spent immediately the final fifth purchases Treasury securities through trust funds. Privatization would hasten depletion of these funds. President Bush proposed diverting up to 4 percentage points of payroll tax to create the private accounts but with payroll currently 12.4% this would still be significantly more than the one fifth that is currently left over so depleting reserves. Funds now being set aside to build up the Trust Funds to provide for retiring baby boomers would be being used instead to pay for the privatization accounts. The Trust Funds would be exhausted much sooner than the thirty-eight to forty-eight years projected if nothing is done. In such a short time frame, the investments in the personal accounts will not be nearly large enough to provide an adequate cushion.[5]

[1] Anrig, Greg and Wasow, Bernard. "Twelve reasons why privatizing social security is a bad idea". The Century Foundation. 14 February 2005. http://tcf.org/media-center/pdfs/pr46/12badideas.pdf

[2] Anrig, Greg and Wasow, Bernard. "Twelve reasons why privatizing social security is a bad idea". The Century Foundation. 14 February 2005. http://tcf.org/media-center/pdfs/pr46/12badideas.pdf

[3] Spitzer, Elliot. "Can we finally kill this terrible idea?" Slate. 4 February 2009. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_best_policy/2009/02/privatize_social_security.html

[4] Spitzer, Elliot. "Can we finally kill this terrible idea?" Slate. 4 February 2009. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_best_policy/2009/02/privatize_social_security.html

[5] Anrig, Greg and Wasow, Bernard. "Twelve reasons why privatizing social security is a bad idea". The Century Foundation. 14 February 2005. http://tcf.org/media-center/pdfs/pr46/12badideas.pdf

Counterpoint 

Privatization would increase national savings and provide a new pool of capital for investment that would be particularly beneficial to the poor. As it stands, Social Security is a net loss maker for the American taxpayer, and this situation will only continue to get worse unless privatization is enacted: those born after the baby boom will forfeit 10 cents of every dollar they earn in payments towards the up keep of the Social Security system. 

By contrast, under privatization people would actually save resources that businesses can invest. As Alan Greenspan has pointed out, the economic benefits of privatization of Social Security are potentially enormous. In Chile, as Dr. Piñera has noted, there has been real economic growth of 7 percent a year over the past decade, energized by a savings rate in excess of 20 percent.[1]

Martin Feldstein, a Harvard economist, formerly Chairman of the Council of Economic Advisors under President Reagan, estimated that the present value to the U.S. economy of investing the future cash flow of payroll taxes in real assets would be on the order of $10 to $20 trillion. That would mean a permanent, significant boost to economic growth.[2]

[1] Crane, Edward. "The Case for Privatizing America's Social Security System." CATO Institute. 10 December 1997. http://www.cato.org/testimony/art-22.html

[2] Crane, Edward. "The Case for Privatizing America's Social Security System." CATO Institute. 10 December 1997. http://www.cato.org/testimony/art-22.html

Title 
The problems with the social security are systemic, not inherent
Point 

Social security is currently solvent and will be into the future due to its dedicated income stream that consistently generates a surplus, which today is $2.5 trillion. This surplus will even grow to approximately $4.3 trillion in 2023, It is only after 2037 when there will begin to be a deficit.(11)

Side opposition will concede that there is a long-run financing problem, but it is a problem of modest size. There would only need to be revenues equal to 0.54% of GDP to extend the life of the social security trust fund into the 22nd century, with no change in benefits. This is only about one-quarter of the revenue lost each year because of President Bush's tax cuts.[1]

Budget shortfalls- of the sort that side proposition’s case is based on- Nobel Laureate economist Paul Krugman argues: " has much more to do with tax cuts - cuts that Mr. Bush nonetheless insists on making permanent - than it does with Social Security. But since the politics of privatization depend on convincing the public that there is a Social Security crisis, the privatizers have done their best to invent one."[2]

Krugman goes on to argue against the twisted logic of privatization: “My favorite example of their three-card-monte logic goes like this: first, they insist that the Social Security system's current surplus and the trust fund it has been accumulating with that surplus are meaningless. Social Security, they say, isn't really an independent entity - it's just part of the federal government… the same people who claim that Social Security isn't an independent entity when it runs surpluses also insist that late next decade, when the benefit payments start to exceed the payroll tax receipts, this will represent a crisis - you see, Social Security has its own dedicated financing, and therefore must stand on its own. There's no honest way anyone can hold both these positions, but very little about the privatizers' position is honest. They come to bury Social Security, not to save it. They aren't sincerely concerned about the possibility that the system will someday fail; they're disturbed by the system's historic success.”[3]

There are many other ways to improve and reform Social Security without privatizing it. Robert L. Clark, an economist at North Carolina State University who specializes in aging issues, formerly served as a chairman of a national panel on Social Security's financial status; he has said that future options for Social Security are clear: "You either raise taxes or you cut benefits. There are lots of ways to do both." These alternatives are also backed by the American people. The American people, despite voting for Republicans, have said over and over in polls that they would pay more in taxes to save entitlements such as Social Security.[4] Therefore Social Security is not fundamentally unsound, and alternative reforms should be made without privatizations.

[1] Paul Krugman. "Inventing a crisis." New York Times. 7 December 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=2&scp=539&sq...

[2] Paul Krugman. "Inventing a crisis." New York Times. 7 December 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=2&scp=539&sq...

[3] Paul Krugman. "Inventing a crisis." New York Times. 7 December 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=2&scp=539&sq...

[4] Dick, Stephen. "Op-Ed: Yes, leave Social Security alone." CNHI News Service. 19 November 2010. http://record-eagle.com/opinion/x877132458/Op-Ed-Yes-leave-Social-Securi...

Counterpoint 

The American people do not oppose privatization -in fact, most support it. A 2010 poll showed overwhelming support for personal accounts. Republican voters support it 65-21, but even Democrat voters like it, 50-36.[1] A poll commissioned by the Cato Institute through the prestigious Public Opinion Strategies polling company showed that 69 percent of Americans favored switching from the pay-as-you-go system to a fully funded, individually capitalized system. Only 11 percent said they opposed the idea.[2] A 1994 Luntz Research poll found that 82 percent of American adults under the age of 35 favored having at least a portion of their payroll taxes invested instead in stocks and bonds. In fact, among the so-called Generation Xers in America, by a margin of two-to-one they think they are more likely to encounter a UFO in their lifetime than they are to ever receive a single Social Security check.

Even more remarkable, perhaps, was a poll taken in 1997 by White House pollster Mark Penn for the Democratic Leadership Council, a group of moderate Democrats with whom President Clinton was affiliated prior to his election. That poll found that 73 percent of Democrats favor being allowed to invest some or all their payroll tax in private accounts.[3] Moreover, the 'alternatives liks raising taxes and reducing benefits are merely kicking the problem further down the road but it will still become a problem at some point. At the same time either raising taxes or reducing benefits would be unfair – raising taxes because it would mean today’s generation of workers paying more than their parents for the same benefit and cutting benefits because it would mean that retirees would be getting less out than they were promised.'

The alternatives would also be particularly devastating for the poor. Individuals who are hired pay the cost of the so-called employer's share of the payroll tax through reduced wages. Therefore, an increase in the payroll tax would result in less money in workers' going to workers. It is also important to remember that the payroll tax is an extremely regressive tax. Likewise a reduction in benefits would disproportionately hurt the poor since they are more likely than the wealthy to be dependent on Social Security benefits.[4]

[1] Roth, Andrew. "Privatize Social Security? Hell Yeah!". Club for Growth.21  September 21 2010. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/?postID=14110

[2] Crane, Edward. "The Case for Privatizing America's Social Security System." CATO Institute. 10 December 1997. http://www.cato.org/testimony/art-22.html

[3] Crane, Edward. "The Case for Privatizing America's Social Security System." CATO Institute. 10 December 1997. http://www.cato.org/testimony/art-22.html

[4] Tanner, Michael. "Privatizing Social Security: A Big Boost for the Poor." CATO. 26 July 1996. http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/ssps/ssp4.html

Bibliography 

Anrig, Greg and Wasow, Bernard. "Twelve reasons why privatizing social security is a bad idea". The Century Foundation. 14 February 2005. http://tcf.org/media-center/pdfs/pr46/12badideas.pdf

http://www.socialsecurity.org/daily/05-11-99.html

Crane, Edward. "The Case for Privatizing America's Social Security System." CATO Institute. 10 December 1997. http://www.cato.org/testimony/art-22.html

Dick, Stephen. "Op-Ed: Yes, leave Social Security alone." CNHI News Service. 19 November 2010. http://record-eagle.com/opinion/x877132458/Op-Ed-Yes-leave-Social-Security-alone

Kotlikoff, Lawrence. "Privatizing social security the right way". Testimony to the Committee on Ways and Means. 3 June 3 1998. http://people.bu.edu/kotlikof/Ways&Means.pdf

Krugman., Paul,  "Inventing a crisis." New York Times. 7 December 2004. http://www.nytimes.com/2004/12/07/opinion/07krugman.html?_r=2&scp=539&sq=&st=nyt

Office of Investor Education and Assistance Securities and Exchange Commission, ‘The Facts on Saving and Investing’, April 1999, http://www.sec.gov/pdf/report99.pdf pp.16-19

Roosevelt, James."Social Security at 75: Crisis Is More Myth Than Fact." Huffington Post. 11 August 11 2010. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/james-roosevelt/social-security-at-75-cri_b_677058.html

Roth, Andrew. "Privatize Social Security? Hell Yeah!". Club for Growth.21  September 21 2010. http://www.clubforgrowth.org/perm/?postID=14110

San Diego Union Tribune. "Privatizing Social Security Still a Good Idea." San Diego Union Tribune. http://www.creators.com/opinion/daily-editorials/privatizing-social-security-still-a-good-idea.html;

Schibuola, Alex. "Time to Privatize? The Economics of Social Security." Open Markets. 16 November 2010. http://www.openmarket.org/2010/11/16/time-to-privatize-the-economics-of-social-security/

Spitzer, Elliot. "Can we finally kill this terrible idea?" Slate. 4 February 2009. http://www.slate.com/articles/news_and_politics/the_best_policy/2009/02/privatize_social_security.html

Tanner, Michael. "Privatizing Social Security: A Big Boost for the Poor." CATO. 26 July 1996. http://www.socialsecurity.org/pubs/ssps/ssp4.html;

"LETTER: We should privatize Social Security." Wausau Daily Herald. October 25th, 2010. http://www.wausaudailyherald.com/;

Wihbey, John, ‘2011 Annual Report by the Social Security Board of Trustees’, Journalist’s Resource, 9 June 2011, http://journalistsresource.org/studies/government/politics/social-security-report-2011/

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